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the Speaker set asise a roomfor nursing mothers to take their children. I can walk away and gladly

Time:2020-01-27 10:58Underwear site information Click:

Wear Budget newsdzeZimbabweNewsdzeZimbabwe Sanitary upset

 the Speaker set asise a roomfor nursing mothers to take their children. I can walk away and gladly say I did my part. I can look at the Education Amendment Bill which will offerfree education. We are waiting for it to be signed. If you go back to TheHansard

Government has provided a $200 million facility in the 2020 National Budget towards the provision of free sanitarywear for primary and secondary schoolgirls from less privileged backgrounds. Sunday Mail Gender and Community Editor, Fatima Bulla (FB), interviewed chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education, Ms Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga (PM), who has been lobbying for girls and women health rights.

F.B: For years, you have been advocating for a National Budget to cater for girls and women rights. In presenting the national revenue and expenditure document for 2020, Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube provided $200 million towards that cause. Do you feel your advocacy bid has finally yielded results?

P.M: Yes, it has been years of struggle around sanitarywear. I came into Parliament in 2000, so it is almost two decades of a conversation around issues of sanitarywear.

I had hoped that, this time around, we would have removed duty, get some subsidy of some sort, but I was pleasantly surprised that we actually had a budgetary allocation for sanitary wear for primary and secondary schools learners. It was a good surprise. I think in the SADC region, we are probably the first country to do that at a national level. In Africa, the one other country that has gone to the level of setting aside resources for sanitarywear at national level, is Kenya. 

F.B: Are you satisfied with the processes of rolling out the sanitarywear project?

P.M: I am upset. The first problem is that the disbursement of the $200 million has not been done, which is a disappointment. Secondly, when the money came in, one of the things I said was that this (sanitarywear) is not perishable. Sanitarywear is not like tomatoes or vegetables which, if not consumed, will go bad.

I had hoped that we get the $200 million and immediately get sanitarywear. There was a lot of conversation about how this project would create employment, but my main concern was to immediately get the wear to the intended beneficiaries. 

I would have expected the ministry to release, say, $100 million and task suppliers to find the most sustainable and reusable sanitarywear.

One of the revolutionary products that we now have is a sanitary panty. It is both a panty and a sanitary product. We should have started distributing the funds this month.

We are going to hold a strategic meeting in the first week of February with officials from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.

I am hoping that is where I am going to get answers. But, generally, I am quite disappointed because the minister and the Secretary for Finance and Economic Development have gone way beyond our expectations and the funds remain unused. I understand they cannot disburse the money where there is no plan.

F.B: What sustainable mechanism do you think can be used to solve the challenge of sanitarywear?

P.M: If one gets a sanitary panty, we know it goes for two to three years. There are panties and what they call butterfly cups, some of them can last up to 10 years. I understand that for the younger girls, the butterfly cups may not be the best because people have issues with insertion and things like that. 

F.B: Do you think there is national appreciation on the need to provide sanitarywear as a basic for girls and women?

P.M: I do not think so. It is not just at Government level, but at all levels of the society.

One thing that I found fascinating when I asked Finance and Economic Development permanent secretary (George) Guvamatanga how we moved from where Government was not taking us seriously to where Government set aside money, he said: “You were pushing and also my daughter was pushing.”

I thought that was really fascinating because he said: “My daughter kept asking why we were not supporting issues of sanitarywear.”

Sometimes I follow social media debates where people tell each other off.

If somebody says: “Our MP (Member of Parliament) pushed for sanitarywear.” Someone will reply saying: “Seriously, sanitarywear in all these economic problems we have? What is sanitarywear?”

So there is no appreciation of just how big the issue of sanitarywear is. Our girls and even adults are using newspapers and cowdung during their cycles. It is sad to think that as a nation with a 54 percent female population we are failing to prioritise provision of affordable sanitarywear.

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